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Monkeypox Cases Rise To Seven In England

A further four people have been diagnosed with monkeypox in England.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says four more individuals have been diagnosed with Monkeypox, a rare viral infection.

The four new cases bring the total confirmed cases in the UK to seven, of the new cases, three were in London and one linked case was in the North East.

The virus is usually caught from infected animals in central Africa.

“This is rare and unusual,” said Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser of UKHSA.

Although health officials are working to establish links between the latest 4 cases, it is understood all four appear to have been infected in London.

Health officials say all 4 of these cases self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM).

Monkeypox virus on a hand | Credit: CDC

The UK Health Security Agency is advising gay, bisexual and other MSM communities, to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a sexual health service if they have concerns.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, UKHSA, said:

"This is rare and unusual. UKHSA is rapidly investigating the source of these infections because the evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact.

We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay."

'This outbreak of monkeypox is unprecedented in the UK' said Prof Jimmy Whitworth, Professor of International Public Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

"There is a need to engage with the at-risk community of gay and bisexual men to ensure they know about the presence of this infection and report any sign and symptoms to health facilities" Prof Whitworth said.

How is it transmitted ?

Catching the virus from an infected person is very uncommon, however transmission is possible through touching clothing, bedding, towels or other items used by someone with the rash.

According to the NHS, you can catch monkeypox if you are bitten by an infected animal or if you touch its bodily fluids or scabs.

The infection can also be caught by eating meat from an infected animal that has not been cooked properly.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

According to Public Health England, the incubation period for the virus is typically 6 to 16 days following exposure.

The NHS says initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.

Stages of Monkeypox | Credit: UKSA

The rash changes and goes through different stages, and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

What is the treatment ?

Currently, there is no proven or approved treatment.

According to the NHS, treatment for monkeypox aims to relieve symptoms.

The illness is usually mild and most people recover within a few weeks.

Smallpox vaccines and other antivirals can be used to aid in controlling outbreaks.

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